Chocolate is everywhere. It is in candy bars, ice cream, cake, andmore. This delicious treat is a big part of many holidays. Lovedones exchange chocolate on Valentine’s day. Children wake up tochocolate filled baskets on Easter. Hanukkahgelt, or chocolatecoins, are given to children on Hanukkah. Chocolate skulls are atraditional part of the Mexican Holiday Day of the Dead. Japaneven has a tradition of girichoco, which women are supposed togive to male friends on Valentine’s day. Of course, candy makersthen decided that men should return the favor on March 14th.
Holidays are not the only reason to enjoy chocolate. In fact, theredoes not need to be a reason at all. Chocolate was once a drinkfor the wealthy. It has now become a treat that is enjoyed by allkinds of people. Americans eat about 12 pounds of chocolateeach year. That is still not as much as the Swiss. The averageperson in Switzerland eats 20 pounds of chocolate each year.That’s about 200 bars of chocolate! Where does all of thischocolate come from?
History of Chocolate
Chocolate is over three thousand years old. The earliest recordsof chocolate are from Central America. Chocolate was not a silkycandy bar wrapped in foil at that time. Ancient civilizations inCentral America drank unsweetened chocolate. They used it asan offering for their gods. It was bitter back then. It was spicytoo. They mixed it with chili peppers. Europeans learned aboutthis chocolate. They added sugar and milk. This gave chocolatethe sweet flavor we know today.
How it’s Made
Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao tree. These seedsare also called cocoa beans. The cacao tree grows in the shade oftropical regions near the equator. It can grow to about 25 feettall. Its fruits are pods shaped like footballs. The cocoa beans areinside these pods. Once ripe, the pods are cut from the tree. Thisis done carefully so that a new pod will grow back. Next, thebeans and pulp inside the pod are removed. They are then setaside in a pile to dry. After about a week, the beans turn a darkbrown color. They are ready to be sold to chocolate makers.
At the factory, there are several steps to turn them intochocolate. First, the beans are roasted. The high temperaturekills any bacteria or mold. It also gets rid of the bitter flavor ofcocoa beans. Next, the shells are removed. The pieces inside theshells are called nibs. These nibs are ground into a paste. Thepaste is called a mass. The chocolate is not ready just yet! Themass is sent through a press. The press separates two parts: thecocoa solids and the cocoa butter. Cocoa solids can be sold ascocoa powder for baking. They can also be used for drinkingchocolate.
There are a few more steps to make chocolate bars. Cocoapowder is mixed with extra cocoa butter. Other flavors can beadded during this step too. Next, is an important step calledconching. Conching evens it out into silky, smooth chocolate.Finally, the chocolate is tempered. This is a process in which thechocolate is heated and cooled again. This has to be donecarefully. The cocoa butter has to cool in certain way. This makesthe chocolate shiny, firm, and snappy. It also makes it so it won’tmelt too easily.
Is a Little Chocolate Healthy?
This is the process used by Henri Nestle and Milton Hershey.They created some of the delicious chocolate we eat today.These chocolates are not meant to be eaten in large amounts.However, small amounts of dark chocolate may actually behealthy. Caffeine and other chemicals in the cocoa powder canboost mood. Other chemicals in chocolate can help protectagainst some illnesses. No wonder chocolate makes people sohappy!
How did the Europeans change chocolate?
They added chili peppers to make it spicy
They added sugar and milk to make it sweet
They turned it into a warm drink
They were the first people to eat chocolate
What happens right after cocoa beans are removed from the pods?
The beans are roasted
The shells are removed
The beans are set aside to dry
The beans are ground into a paste
Once the cocoa beans get to the factory, what is the first step in making chocolate?
Removing the shells
In which section would you add information about the effects of chocolate on obesity?